Most days when I sit by my computer, I can imagine that we're wealthy. I look out the window, the one just behind my computer monitor, and watch the deer stripping leaves off the spare branches poking out of the snow. We live in a 100-year-old rented carriage house on a 20-acre estate. The owners, upper-crust New Yorkers, "weekend" and "summer" in the 21-room main house. The monthly rent, according to the landlord, goes in escrow to pay for their property taxes on the estate. For us, it's a small fortune and it's bought us a small piece of heaven.
My five year old refers to our home as his "house in the woods." It's a haven and during a snow storm, a prison. We have barely enough room to move, though the house has three bedrooms and two bathrooms. The old oil burner rumbles each time it cycles on to heat the house. I know the oil man by first name. He has my cell phone number and calls me when he's planning to deliver oil. We know the postman. The UPS man has our cell phone numbers when the estate road is snow-covered and he has to make a delivery. On those days, we trudge the half mile to the main road, just to sign for the package. The mail box is down the road.
My two youngest children share a bedroom, the largest, warmest room in the house. Long and narrow, each of them claims an end which they decorate with their own touches. But, I marvel how their dirty laundry doesn't discriminate. Strewn from one end of the room to the other, it doesn't discriminate between sides.
Most days, I can meet our bills--the electric, propane, rent, cable, cell phone, grocery and water. In the winter, I can meet some of the bills. I can pay the oil. Or I can pay the rent. Sometimes I play "pick from a hat" to see which bill is delayed payment for another month.
Yet, I feel contentment. This is my home. My mother is anguished to see it. She wishes more for me, wishes I didn't have to struggle at 49. She lives in a sprawling colonial with an "Architectural Digest" kitchen in Connecticut. And though I love to spend time in her home, this is my home. My modest home.
Contentment is the best thing I've ever found. It's about being happy at whatever place I find myself. It's a state I wish to translate to my children. Oh, it's doesn't mean I don't strive for more. But, sometimes circumstance doesn't give you what you want, despite best efforts. I have learned to be happy with what I have. It's a good place to be.